rita and fred
Slinky
by Rose Mary Boehm

I could see myself. The singing, dancing,
long-legged Rita Hayworth double. I would.
I did. I do. Mame.
Long mane, probably red. Long
gloves until over my elbows.
Probably black.
Dress? Silk and shine and hugging my thighs
and calves. At least six inches of heel.
How I’d dazzle, how I’d pirouette, how I’d
swing my hips without being vulgar. Never
be vulgar, my mother said. Oh no, ma’am.
I’d put Ginger to shame. Fred and Rose.
No boogie. The Marimba?
Begin the Beguine?
More athletic? Gene and Rose?
For Gene I might be Leslie Caron instead of Rita.
Perhaps.
But she was too sweet.
No, not John Travolta. The emphasis
Is on “slinky.” Someone from the underworld
would come backstage
and offer to shoot himself
unless I said “yes.”

PHOTO: Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire in a scene from You Were Never Lovelier (1942).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was socially gauche, my dancing skills negligible, my red high-heeled peep-toes hurt my feet, and when I wondered whether I would ever be looked at by any male, I imagined I could exchange my mouse-blonde ponytail for Rita Hayworth’s blonde mane, my awkward gait for her sinuous moves, could flow across a stage with at least Fred Astaire, and be admired by all.

rmb

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A German-born U.K. national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of TANGENTS, a poetry collection published in the U.K. (2011/2012), her work has been widely published in U.S. poetry journals (online and print).  Twice winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, her new poetry collection (From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949) was published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and another new collection will be published by Kelsay Books in 2016/2017.